CINCINNATI — Arrive early and don’t be in a hurry.
That’s the advice BLINK attendees shared Thursday after braving the sprawling light festival’s first night in full swing. The event’s glimmering light displays dominate much of downtown Cincinnati, Over-the-Rhine and northern Covington — all places parking is often scarce.
But first-night BLINKers didn’t report problems with their own parking or traffic. Many had come Thursday with specific plans to avoid a possible weekend crush.
“We figured Thursday would be the best night,” said Sandy Scardina, who lives on the east side of the city. “The parade, the weather, it wouldn’t be as crowded.”
It was crowded, but not overwhelming. Scardina followed the crowd, stopped for surprises and tried not to think about the traffic she might face trying to leave.
“I think it’ll be fine,” she said right after voicing her anxieties. “I really do. Everything was orderly getting in here. I think it’ll be fine leaving. Not everyone will be leaving at the same time.”
Tom Stalbaum, arriving an hour before sunset with sister Mary Walters, snagged the last parking spot on Central Avenue and paid with EZ Park on his phone. Henry Kohnen, who traveled from Madeira, said he drove past one full parking lot but found another nearby that cost just $3.
Charles Steele, whose Korporate Kutz Barbershop is close to Fountain Square, said he didn’t expect the gentle traffic to last through the weekend.
“Parking will be trouble as far as the streets,” he said. “Everything on the street will be sewed up. These parking lots will be sewed up.”
His advice, as someone who’s worked downtown for three years: Get a spot at Olympic Garage on Seventh Street.
Event organizers expect up to 1 million people to attend BLINK 2019, and authorities on both sides of the river encouraged weekend attendees not to BLINK and drive if they can avoid it. Those searching for alternative transportation can find a comprehensive list of other options, including public transit and special BLINK-only shuttles, here.
Follow the rest of our BLINK coverage here:
- BLINK FAQ: Here's how best to enjoy it despite the crowds
- BLINK Future City Spectacular Parade to kick off festival
- Fountain Square BLINK installation will make audience part of the show
- Map: Here's what you'll see and do at BLINK in Cincy and Covington this year
- Roebling Bridge closes for BLINK prep
- What's new this year at BLINK
- Navigating BLINK 2019: Officials urge visitors to carpool or take public transit
- These funky, geometric lights will stay suspended in Downtown even after BLINK is over